Barclays Center debut: no traffic nightmare and empty (paid) parking spaces (on a work night), but still reasons for concern: narrow sidewalks mean paparazzi gridlock and later a flood of people blocking Atlantic Avenue
Though he'd been on many stages around the world, Jay-Z told the crowd, "Nothing feels like tonight, Brooklyn."
(While the fans I spoke to all said they enjoyed the show, and people chanted "Hova" as they left--and, of course, inside--I heard multiple secondhand reports, including this tweet, that said that Jay-Z's performance, actually, was subpar.)
reported on Twitter; I countered that developer Bruce Ratner had a "wee bit" of government help.
Perhaps the most prominent disorder, according to reports on Twitter, was lots of pot-smoking inside the arena, as well as a wait, which lasted until about 8:45, just to get past security into the building.
However, as some reported, the crowds after the event could get disruptive; see below.
Significant use of transit
The vigorous promotion of transit coupled with mostly pleasant weather and the generally young audience meant few drove automobiles--at least to paid parking. (Watch out when Streisand appears.) The surface parking lot in the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site, in fact, was perhaps 20 percent full.
In the four hours before the show, the Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center Station saw turnstile exits increase by 6,754 people -- roughly one-third the Barclays Center capacity -- compared to the average of previous Fridays this September, according to a WNYC analysis of MTA data.That's actually not as many as the 7600 or so trips predicted--albeit including two other subway stops, the G at Fulton and the C at Lafayette--between 5-6 pm and 7-8 pm in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
So, where were the rest? Some came after 8 pm. Others managed to park or get dropped off. At about 7:30 pm, as shown in the video below, traffic flowed well on Atlantic Avenue.
And the commitment to making the Barclays Center debut work, as well as the numerous VIPs, meant a massive number of police, including white-shirted brass who surely will not be there every day. (Then again, there may be some more law enforcement inside.)
It also featured extra transit staff and extra trains, as well as numerous yellow-jacketed pedestrian monitors hired by the arena. (Those monitors are not a permanent feature, so it's not clear how long they'll be there.)
|Gathering outside 78th Precinct, 6:10 pm|
Some snags and reasons for concern
Well, not quite. Given that a lot of people took public transit because they came from work, the two weekend shows beginning tonight should feature more cars.
(Presumably arena planners and city officials will make adjustment; spotted walking around were several people from Sam Schwartz Engineering, the consultant working for the Barclays Center, including "Gridlock Sam" himself, as well as Chris Hrones of the Department of Transportation.)
After the event, various musicians played on the plaza, then also on Pacific Street across Flatbush in front of a bar, despite the presence (right) of a police eye-in-the-sky.
There were numerous boisterous people, a good number drunk. While the bars and restaurants on nearby blocks (like Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street), didn't look busy before the event, some might do better afterward.
One WNYC commenter wrote:
I live a few blocks away and beeping horns, police sirens and yelling people persisted until at least 2am. There clearly was a traffic disruption.(See coverage of the debut in the Daily News, Wide-eyed fans descend upon Brooklyn to christen Barclays Center for soldout Jay-Z show; the New York Times, For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests; the New York Post, Jay-Z rap concert highlights Barclays Center's coming-out party; DNAinfo, Jay-Z Concert Opens Barclays Center for Brooklyn's 'Big Moment'; EW,
Jay-Z at Brooklyn's Barclays Center opening night: On the scene; Rolling Stone, Jay-Z Represents Brooklyn at First Barclays Center Show; NY Mag's Vulture, Jay-Z Makes History With Pretty Good First Show at Barclays Center; and MTV, Jay-Z Puts The Focus On Brooklyn At First Barclays Show.)
The Times captured the moment:
The crowd was growing fidgety as the lights finally dimmed at almost 9:45. A slide show recounted aspects of Brooklyn’s history, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Beastie Boys, Ebbets Field and finally the Brooklyn Nets. Jay-Z took the stage in a white Nets hat and a black Nets jersey — No. 4, with “Carter,” his actual last name, across the back. Before a projection of city projects, he said, “Today is a celebration, a celebration of the place where I’m from. When I say, ‘Is Brooklyn in the house,’ I want to hear everybody. Is Brooklyn in the house?” The crowd roared.
In the Daily News, Jim Farber wrote:
On this night, Jay-Z’s well-known hit “We Run This Town” never felt more literal.
Here's NetsDaily's Net Income (aka Bob Windrem) reporting a message from a member of the Nets' front-office staff, a "basketball purist":
As Jay-Z was wrapping up, his Nets cap and Nets jersey matching the thousands in the audience wearing Nets black-and-white, he messaged us, "I'm starting to understand how big this is."On the plaza
Below, some 90 minutes before the event began, there were still protestors. Later, the counter-activity moved to the Dean Street playground, where perhaps 125-150 people by my quick scan (organizers counted 250) watched the documentary Battle for Brooklyn. (Other coverage of the counter-events in the Observer and Patch.)
VIP area congestion
By 7:45 pm, before the event began, a large crowd gathered near the VIP entrance on Atlantic Avenue, impeding foot traffic, waiting for celebrities such as Magic Johnson and current Nets players, many of whom attended.
One neighborhood resident nearby pointed out, with not illegitimate dismay, that if there had been a demonstration, the police would have made sure to clear the sidewalk.
Atlantic Avenue becomes block party
After the concert let out, a huge crowd spilled out along Atlantic Avenue, first into the lay-by lane, then, as police relented and removed barriers, into the street, stopping eastbound traffic for about ten minutes. Note the calls for Nets player Jerry Stackhouse.
Given the time of night, about 11:45 pm, the amount of backed-up traffic ultimately wasn't huge. mBut this clearly can't be the solution on weekend afternoons.
Other traffic issues
Before the concert, the cops also kept traffic moving at some peril to pedestrians, several times waving traffic through red lights to maintain traffic flow.
Delays on Dean Street
Major delays in getting ticketholders into the building--apparently because of the lengthy security process, involving metal detectors--sent a flood of event-goers from the main plaza around Flatbush Avenue toward the Dean Street entrance, filling the available space in front of it for some 25 minutes.
There's no residential tower next door, but such a crowd and a residence wouldn't mix.
(DNAinfo reported, "Some concertgoers Friday night were taken aback by the strong security presence, which included guards in military uniforms carrying assault rifles.")
Adjusting to the change
Indeed, nearly all the houses on Sixth Avenue between Bergen and Dean streets, just below the arena, were dark, a suggestion that their occupants decided to spend the night away. They can't do that every night, so surely they, and arena operators, hope the kinks get worked out.
(I spoke to the one resident standing guard; he was wary, but hopeful: he said he already had Nets season tickets.)
After midnight, with a crowd remaining at the plaza but most event-goers gone, I noticed that the down escalator was out. (It may have been down longer.)
But there was more than sufficient capacity on the stairs. Still, it's a new station, so escalators should work, right?
Vehicles on the street
There also were numerous black cars and other luxury vehicles idling, often in No Parking or No Standing zones near the arena and, I was told, in Fort Greene. Also taking advantage of such zones were official vehicles from the MTA and NYPD. I did see, however, a car blocking the bus stop on Dean Street opposite the arena get ticketed and towed.
One Prospect Heights resident commented on Atlantic Yards Watch regarding the corner of St. Marks Avenue and Carlton Avenue:
When I got home from work I noticed that there were two Hot 97 vans parked on my corner. They had NYP license plates and were taking up two parking spots. As a result it took my family, with a small child, as extra ten minutes to find a parking spot. I did not report to 311 because didn't realize it was illegal, just thought it was a nuisance. I have the license plates of the vans if anyone is interested in them.
Below, vehicles, most if not all private cars for police officers, are parked on the east side of Sixth Avenue from Bergen Street (home of the 78th Precinct) nearly to Dean Street (catercorner to the arena).
Below, media vans gather on Fort Greene Place, the private street owned by Forest City Ratner between its Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls. A pedestrian manager is below left. Note the sign directing people to walk above-ground to the Long Island Rail Road.
Below, a limo idles on Dean Street opposite the arena, in a No Standing zone.
Below, an MTA vehicle parked in a No Parking zone on South Portland Avenue just north of Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene.
One Atlantic Avenue bar operator, the Social Butterfly, was welcoming patrons to an after-party.
Bus layover area
At Vanderbilt and Park avenues, the bus layover area.
Some trash on the street
Arena-goers (presumably) left some trash on newspaper boxes on the east side of Fourth Avenue between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue.